Librarians Say Information Literacy Is Important, They Don't Have the Tools to Teach It

According to a new survey from ProQuest, nearly all librarians (97 percent) say information literacy contributes to workforce success and more than four in five (83 percent) say it affects college graduation rates, and yet 44 percent said their library does not support information literacy as much as it should.

The survey polled more than 200 librarians from university, community college, high school and public libraries. Other key findings include:

  • Only 21 percent of librarians said their users recognize information literacy's effect on lifelong success. Thirty-four percent said their users do not and 33 percent said they weren't sure;
  • 91 percent of those surveyed said they rely on one-on-one in-person consultations to reinforce literacy skills;
  • Classes on general research skills and classes on research skills for specific projects were the second most common way librarians in the survey said they reinforce information literacy, at 69 and 64 percent, respectively;
  • Only one in four librarians surveyed said their library supports its users' information literacy needs as much as it should;
  • 77 percent said they promote a specific information literacy platform to users;
  • 60 percent of those surveyed told researchers their library's reference collection does not play a large role in information literacy instruction, with only 26 percent saying it does; and
  • 42 percent of respondents said they have no formal tool to assess users' information literacy, while 29 percent said they offer informal assessment.

"While a number of respondents believe implementing or improving assessment tools could allow their libraries to better meet users' information literacy instruction needs, those surveyed already have a number of other ideas on how to achieve this aim," according to a report on the survey results. "For one, many librarians believe that better integrating information literacy within and across existing curricula would boost their users' information literacy skills. Similarly, many respondents feel that the answer lies in working more closely with faculty and other instructors — learning about their needs, educating them on the importance of information literacy and the resources the library offers, and encouraging them to include more research-based projects in their coursework."

"Overall, lack of budget and limited staffing were reported as some of the greatest obstacles for doing as much as they would like to drive development of this important skill set," said Kevin Stehr, ProQuest vice president of North American sales, in a prepared statement. "But I think this response summed it up best — 'We're doing the best we can, but we always aspire to do more.'"

To see the full report, visit the ProQuest site.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].